Monthly Archives: September 2011

Dinner update

We started with some steamed artichokes with homemade lemon and garlic aioli. An experiment of sorts, having never cooked artichokes in my life. They were good, but labour-intensive to eat. Aioli was delish and will keep vampires at bay for at least a week.

 

 

 

The roasted chicken turned out pretty damn good. My mom gave me a nifty chicken roasting pan for Christmas last year that works like a charm. It has a cylindrical tube that you place the chicken on top of so that the bird steams from the inside – kind of like a beer can chicken only safer. Keeps your birdie moist and juicy inside and nice and crisp on the outside…yum.

Used a whack of the peppers from today and used up some potatoes from our last market expedition. All in all, we are satisfied customers currently undergoing the meat and hearty food coma. mmmmmm…..meatsweats!

It was pretty damn good!

Different photo headers

I am trying out some new ideas for my header. I love my bike, but it’s not feeling like bike season right now. Gladly taking ideas, otherwise be prepared for random headers in the next days and tell me which one you like! Currently these are the cattails from a nice walk I take the poochies on in Elgin Heritage Park, South Surrey.

Windy Sunday Farmer’s Market & my first official “ethical feast”! (coming up…)

So today John and I woke to some crazy sounding winds outside….(nope not from the behinds of our dogs or ourselves). After taking Walter and Benji for a windy walk, and a hot cup of “Mellow” Ethical Bean coffee, we decided to head up to the White Rock Farmer’s Market.

We were met with some unruly winds that kept most booths from erecting their tents, since they were just blowing down anyhow. We treated ourselves to some cheese sticks, which in reality were delicious hunks of half loaves smothered in melted cheese…delicious. We came ready (John has really embraced my ethical meat eating plan which is SO COOL) so we stocked up on some turkey sausage $11.30 from Ladybug Manor pasture-raised organic birds ( www.ladybugmanor.com ). Next to LBM we met a very local pasture-beef farmin’ lady so we picked up some rib steak and eye of round steaks for $20.00. Later, we drove by her farm (just to be sure) and were both pleasantly surprised at how close the farm was and how happy the cattle looked 🙂

We then loaded up on a plethora of seasonal veggies; artichokes, squash, and peppers. After we left the market, we went cruising towards Langley/Surrey and hit up another farm stand. We really lucked out here, since it was their last day for the season. We picked up 2 dozen free range eggs (from yesterday) at $3/dozen. They were so fresh that there were a few feathers on some of them – talk about the real deal! Also, they were all random sizes and variations of colour. Neat.

We scored on some more corn from Chilliwack, apples, concord grapes, nectarines and a few more different squash.

So now that it feels officially like fall has fallen, today is the day I will cook up the free range chicken I picked up a few weeks ago on my last farm marketing endeavours. This will be the first meat other than seafood I’ll have had in about 5 weeks. Exciting! My theme tonight will be seasonal goods and all from a farm and pasture-raised and local. I’ll provide an update on how successful (or un) once the feast is finished! Happy wind-day!

A big life changing moment that I will share, but don’t make fun of me

So last week the inevitable happened….earlier than anticipated. I gave notice to my job. I was planning to do this eventually, especially since we plan to move. But I did not quit for that reason alone. I have enjoyed my job and it breaks my heart to even think about breaking the news to the people I have been supporting for some time now. Thinking about it is really sad. I’ve had bouts of tears to my own personal network about it, which I feel shows how much I deeply care and how it breaks my heart to see “the system” disappoint.

My ultimate decision to do it was a long time coming, and included some personal values and beliefs that felt violated by my employer. I am in the human services field. This is what I am studying, this has been my life’s journey. I have been responsible for real people and their lives and my role has been to help these people realize their own potentials, goals, big and small achievements – things that we do in our lives every day without ever considering to be “a big deal”, only at my job, sometimes it is a big deal.

The interesting thing about the job I’m about to leave is that it can be easy to appear as a non-person. I know it sounds weird. But in the business of supporting others, often there is so much emphasis on “these others” that we as supporters/counsellors/workers/caregivers/whatever-we-are-called goes by the wayside. It is a job that I believe requires a healthy respect and appreciation for all people involved. I truly loved the work that I have done and currently do. It certainly isn’t glamorous, but it is amazing to see some of the tiny triumphs for some of the folks I know.

The deal breaker has been the actual employer for me. I now feel that for an organization in the community living field to flourish, size and grandeur should not be the focus. A small, focussed organization has the ability to really become experts at providing exemplary service rather than expanding at exponential rates having not perfected the level of care for those people already in place. In order for carers (like me and many others) to be great at caring, there has to be some incentive and a healthy respect. Because I felt that some new developments where I worked were not up to ethical standards, and in fact were a step backwards, I was made to feel like a bad employee. After MUCH contemplation I realize I care more about the well-being of the small group I was caring for than the big company. So if that means I go out with a red flag on my file, so be it. My reasons remain deeply rooted in my personal values that I am no longer willing to compromise. Sadness…..

What I am faced with now is kind of scary and exciting. I am a very logical and methodical person. I like to have a contingency plan in place before I make major decisions. Guess what? I don’t have one. In fact, the funniest thing about this all is that I quit my low paying job that I gave my heart and soul to, to become a volunteer! Well that and a full-time student (living off student loans). Crazy. This feels like a big life moment for me and I have been a bag of all sorts of mixed emotions. Thank goodness for having some solid people around me (including John) because this is so drastic for me that it has me constantly debating with myself.

I think that I am satisfied with my ultimate decision. It will be a great relief to be done with a big corporation-style company that violates some things I believe to be right about this field of work. And I am a firm believer in Karma and that things always work out. Should I need a job right away, I’ll be able to get one.

Go with your hearts everyone. Do what feels right to yourselves. It’s been a very empowering experience.

Encounters of a door to door Meat Salesman…for real!

Meat packages in a Roman supermarket.

Image via Wikipedia

In all of my life I have never encountered a for real door to door salesman in the business of MEAT (nor did I realize they existed). Until yesterday. How can it possibly be, that for the first time in my existence as a happy and formerly oblivious carnivore that the exact time in my life I have decided to be meat-free (with the previously mentioned exceptions) I encounter such an occurance? Odd.

So here’s how it all unfolded….

I’m sitting at work after having prepared lunch for one of the people I was supporting, when suddenly there is a knock at her door. Upon answering it, a friendly middle-aged fellow introduced himself as a representative for ___________ Fine Meats (blank indicates a name I’ve left out for privacy reasons). He tells me that he does deliveries and always carries some extra boxes and likes to knock on doors nearby. He claims that the meat is organic. So, I say I may be interested in taking a look (mainly for my own research interests).

Out we go to his truck. I know, creepy right? It wasn’t really, but it sure sounds like it, plus I was under the watchful eye of the lady I was supporting. Anyways, he begins to unload slightly thicker-than pizza boxes of various meats and begins his sales pitch. Immediately I interrupt and repeat that I am ONLY interested in what is supposedly organic and free range. He kept showing me all of the meat – some marinated in a questionable looking thick orangey brown goo.

As he finally brought out the “organic” and “free range” meat, I asked him if he knew where exactly the cuts came from. His response: “Alberta & BC” I clarified, by asking if he knew the farms or the farmers or had a card for his company so that I could inquire to the owner of _______ Fine Meats.

His response was very defensive at this point. He explained (in a very frustrated tone) that their company deals with “so many huge outfits” that they likely would not be able to provide me with exactly where the meat originated. Hmmmm. It’s kind of scary not really knowing where it all comes from now.

The more I get into this, the more I can’t stop thinking about how disconnected we’ve become from our food and the earth. The salesman was pissed off with me for asking what farms the cows/chickens/turkeys lived. Granted, he was doing his job of selling (or trying to) meat. My point is that he didn’t seem to grasp that I was pointing out that I am genuinely interested in the origins of my food.

All of this seems very ironic to me. I mean there must be a reason that the meat guy showed up on my doorstep (literally) yesterday in the midst of my lifestyle change.

Those ferry turkeys almost a month ago have really shaken me up!

I continue to feel amazing however, and have experimented with some tasty recipes with Quinoa and tons of veggies.  The saga continues 🙂

Veggie Supreme

I’ve continued with my committment to avoid the “industrialized meat” that is so common out there.  I don’t have an actual number of days count to supply ( I can go back through old posts and check) but it’s been roughly 3.5 weeks of eating no meat with the exception of fish/seafood (not farmed!). I have to say….and I never thought I’d say it…..I feel amazing. Physically I feel most excellent. It’s been a drastic change in the way I eat, as well as the way I think about what food I put into my body.

I just returned from a 4 day trip for work. Having to eat out most of the time used to be considered a treat. This time, I was way more cautious and tried the veggie options for each meal. Some were alright but it didn’t necessarily mean they were healthy. What is it with restaurants needing to fry everything or soak it all in butter or oil? Maybe we like the comfort-style foods, which typically means fatty. Don’t get me wrong, I like comfort food for sure (especially home-made baked mac ‘n cheese). But having ordered a veggie sandwich at lunch, that sounded great on the menu turned out to be two pieces of bread soaked in oil with melted cheese and some limp pieces of lettuce. yikes!

I have yet to actually cook up and eat my ethical meat purchases from the farmers market, but I will. Once I warm up to the idea. What I have enjoyed is the peace of mind I have. And the added knowledge about this crazy food industry we are surrounded by. I urge anyone with the slightest bit of interest to start researching where your groceries in your fridge originated. I also wonder what the food industries are like around the world, since mainly the books I have focus on North America. Thoughts?

The need for positivity

Clear Fell. Cleared forest

Image via Wikipedia

It’s been a random couple of weeks….make that a month or so. As some of you may know, we are planning on a big move to a new town – far from what either of us know. It’s exciting and frightening. It is hard to coordinate and sometimes exhausting to think about. But what keeps me going is the thought of greener pastures and a simplified lifestyle.

I have the tendency to get bogged down easily and to dwell on what may not happen (if the case is that I actually need it to happen) or vice versa. Being part of a duo has taught me that when I see these similar symptoms affecting my other half, or friend or someone around me, I need to be positive. It is so important to recognize what we have in our lives that is positive. Can you walk? Can you feed yourself? Can you do your own personal care? Can you say something nice to a stranger today? Can you smile at someone? Do you have food to eat, and water to drink? Do you appreciate simple things such as these?

Life is filled with challenges, heartache, roadblocks, loss and bad luck. But life is also a great lesson and provides opportunities at every chance to realize just how much we have and how much we can do. Of course there are also lots of lovely things in life as well. Just trying to provide some perspective…..

I’ve had a hard week. Rather than feel sorry about it and look for sympathy, I have signed up as a volunteer at my fave animal rescue place. This is just a start however, because there is something to be said about doing good and finding some meaning in getting out of a dark place by giving someone else some light. What else can I do? I feel inspired at the moment and feel the need to start something. In an effort to release some energy I feel like another closet raid is in order. Time to clear out anything I haven’t worn in the last 3 months and give it away to charity. Ideas? Anyone else feel like starting something?

The World!

free counters
Free counters

Cell phone companies are sucking my will to live

Are you one of the millions who are locked in to some ridiculous x-number of years contract with one of the major cell phone providers? Me too. I’ve been with one that rhymes with Dodgers whom I am not at all pleased with. I’ve paid (as an estimate over 7+ years) thousands of dollars in wireless fees, texting, hidden fees, upgrades, replacements, roaming charges and late fees. For a long time I was addicted to having my cell phone at my side. I had the iPhone (first generation) and thought I was all that and a bag of reduced salt chips. I used it is my primary source of contact and information gathering to the outside world.

Last December I was the lucky recipient of tickets to the Roger Waters performance of The Wall – absolutely mindblowing! Somehow, by the end of the show I was convinced I was going on a crusade to protest injustice (which isn’t too far off from how I feel on any given day actually) and that I was not going to conform to the cell phone companies. I know, silly as it sounds, I am sticking by it.

So, back to being a slave to “Dodgers”….my contract isn’t up until October 2012. Blast. The cost to cancel your services (forget the thousands over several years of being a customer) was $360. Unbelievable. So my plan – since I had decided I want to be cell phone free – was to cut my services to nearly nothing. A 40minute per month plan. Laughable to the cell users out there. The agent on the phone as I was doing such an appauling change tried her hardest to get me to change my mind.

CS Agent – “You will likely go over your minutes”

Me – “No I won’t”

CS Agent – “What will you do if you need to make a call?”

Me – “Send a smoke signal”

CSA – silence……….”Ok then, if you are sure then it’s done”

Me – “Excellent. Thanks!”

So I managed to find a way to pay less than $10/month to weasle out of my plan which turns out to be way more than half of what the cancellation fee was. And how am I coping with being cell phone free? Liberated. And ever so slightly richer. Less stressed about the insane monthly bills. Free. Relaxed. As if I have conquered the beast in the ring!

For the current cell phone lovers and users, I’m not hating on you at all. I had to do what I needed to do. The only advice I leave is this:

Stop texting and driving/crossing streets without paying attention!

The trouble with caring…..

So for those of you who don’t know me, I work in the caring field. As a student chipping away at a degree in Social Work, this seems appropriate. My job revolves around a series of unique tasks that are enjoyable at times and less than enjoyable at others. But I wouldn’t do it, if I didn’t care.

I’ve just spent the last 4 months in a role as a manager/carer. It was a great summer filled with challenges, frustration, pride and of course fun. This last week, I ran into a particular challenge that required me to work several hours past when I should have finished, resulting in a long, stressful and exhausting day though I wouldn’t have done it if I hadn’t cared. The day was so much in fact, that as I finally disembarked my bus in White Rock (from Vancouver) and nearly 11 o’clock that night, I stopped in at the local beer and wine on my walk down the hill to my house and grabbed a tall can of Kilkenney for the walk. It was a clear night, I could see the stars and the moonlight reflection off the water below.

I found myself sitting, alone, late at night in the middle of a (non-busy) road down a huge hill, watching the sky and the reflection on the water. It was lovely and I truly wish I had a picture to capture the night sky. I realized how little I allow myself to slow down and breathe. I barely wanted to peel myself up off the ground to keep walking (but a car came eventually) since it was so peaceful.

I realized how I need to care not only for my loved ones and the people I support at work, but I also need to care for myself.

Today I had a conversation with a colleague I respect, about the past summer and the events that went on through work. I’ve had some pretty mixed feelings about my job as of late – I like what I do, I do not like the organization I do it for. I justify this contradiction by affirming to myself that I am going to work purely for the direct people I am supporting. So, during this conversation about the organization I work for, I really realized how easy it is to be managed and overlooked and walked over. Not ok right? New lesson learned: Do not go quietly. If something doesn’t sit right (for example, if you experience something morally or ethically wrong in your beliefs) than it needs to be said. Speak up! Fight the good fight! That’s what I am currently planning to do.


My theory is if I can make an inch of difference or raise any sort of awareness on the subject of social justice, the well-being of real people or a lack of moral standards in the workplace, than I can move on a happy clam.